I had not heard about Pantula Rama till I saw her name in the Parthasarathy Sabha donor pass. If a renowned Sabha gives her a day 1 prime slot, I assumed she would be good. I also came to know from her profile on the net that she has been around for sometime and holds a PhD in Carnatic music.
When I entered the Sabha, I found the Chief guest who happened to be some Swamiji talking and there were many old people listening with rapt attention. Uninterested I loitered around for a while till it was announced that Unnikrishnan would speak. P.Unnikrishnan, the carnatic singer, has been awarded the title "Sangeetha Kala Sarathy" this year by Parthasarathy Sabha. It was an interesting speech interspersed with subtle humour. He remarked that at one point he was on the pitch both in music and cricket but he was glad to have chosen the right pitch - music. It was also good to listen to Unnikrishnan speaking about the current challenges today's musicians face with changing tastes.
Back to Pantula Rama .. The concert started off with the usual Varnam and after a crisp alapaana of Kalyani and rendition of Ganapathe mahaamathe, Rama started off on Dhenuka. I recognized Dhenuka, having listened to Semmangudi's Theliyaleru Raama several times. It turned out that the song was indeed Theliyaleru Raama. The raga was dealt with in detail and the rendition of the song was soulful. Thyagaraja's helplessness and worry about the people getting lost in their daily chores came out very well. Later when I went through the Sahityam and the meaning, I noticed a similarity with Boris Pasternak's poem on day break. While both are about people going about lost in mundane activities, the difference is that Pasternak mocks at them for not stopping and enjoying life and beautiful things around them and Thyagaraja is worried about their lack of real understanding of bhakthi.
Giripai nelakonna in Sahana was really soothing and was another song which was dealt with in detail. I couldn't figure out the raga of the main song which started something like this "Neeye gathi Kaanthi mani". I am not able to find it on google. I did try with Kaanthimathi as well but the search returned was Nee padhame gathi nalinakaanthi mathi which is a different song. However the song was a perfect main song that started off with a tanam and was loaded with kalpana swaras which were duly reciprocated by the Violin and ended with a nice Tani and a wonderful Korvai. Incidentally the violinist MSN murthy happens to be Rama's husband. Murthy on the Violin and J.Vaidyanathan on the mridangam were exceptional.
The concert was so engaging that I returned without paying a visit to Mountbatten Mani. There is an old saying "Sevikku unavu illadha pozhuthu sirithu vayittrukkum eeya padum". Very true indeed!